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Federal Funds Help Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Dairy OperationsSubmitted: 04/25/2013
Story By Associated Press

MILWAUKEE - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the federal government is renewing a pact with the dairy industry aimed at decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Vilsack says the federal government has helped thousands of dairy farms implement conservation plans, build anaerobic digesters and conduct energy audits under the original 2009 agreement.

The dairy industry has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service has spent $257 million since 2009 to help the dairy industry reduce its emissions.

Vilsack says he expects a similar, if not greater, investment over the next four years, although the deal signed Wednesday does not specify an amount.

Vilsack counted among the successes the construction of 178 anaerobic digesters that convert manure into methane for fuel.

(Copyright 2013 Associated Press - All Rights Reserved)



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 IN OTHER NEWS

STATEWIDE - City, county, and town leaders hope you Turn Out for Transportation Thursday night.  Seventy-one of the state's 72 counties will hold public forums for people to learn more about the state's transportation budget.

The idea comes from the "Just Fix It" campaign, which many counties have signed encouraging state lawmakers to find a better way to pay for roadwork.

You can find the location and time for your county's meeting via the link below.

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EAGLE RIVER - After a year of revisions, Northland Pines High School will start a new policy in December, drug testing some of its students. 

The school board voted and approved the new policy earlier this week.

For District Administrator Mike Richie, this is a way to stay proactive, helping both parents and students to avoid drug addiction.

"If there is a problem how we can prevent that problem, how can we get students to realize that this problem can only get worse as they get older and continue into the work force," said Richie.

 "I think we're going above and beyond, and I think that we need to help and assist parents this is a problem that exists all over, it's not just a Northern Wisconsin problem." 

To Richie this is a collaborative effort. 

Students will only be put into the pool to be randomly tested if they and their parents both opt into the policy and sign the permission form.

 Forms for parents and students to opt into the policy will be sent out within the next couple of weeks. 

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RHINELANDER -
Hockey players in Rhinelander will see some big changes. 

After getting a large anonymous donation, the Rhinelander Ice Association will get a new training area, weight room, locker room, and more. 

Since work began in August, framing for the building has gone up and dry wall will be put in next week.

"Just the whole project is really exciting and really going to come together and improve Rhinelander, and improve athletics in Rhinelander," said Rhinelander Ice Association Rink Manager Brett Aylesworth. 

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ANTIGO - The rain this summer put a damper on some people's outdoor plans, but it was great for potato farmers.

The rainfall made this one of best growing seasons in Wisconsin's history, but now that rainfall is delaying harvesting.

Potato growers can't dig up potatoes when they're wet because they won't store well.

But if they wait too long growers run the risk of the crops getting damaged by frost.

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BOULDER JUNCTION - Downtown Boulder Junction could look a little different in a few years. The Boulder Junction Town Board voted 2 to 1 to move onto the design phase of a town plaza project Tuesday night.

The design will cost about $25,000. Town Supervisor Dennis Duke said the plaza could have things like bathrooms, wifi, and places to sit.

Duke thinks the plaza would get people to spend more time downtown.

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STEVENS POINT - Stevens Point police want your help finding suspects in two possible stabbings.  The stabbings happened early Friday morning and early Sunday morning near downtown Stevens Point.

Friday, four young men got into a fight on Main Street. One man said he was stabbed in the chest.  Police say the suspect is a black man in his mid-20s, about 5' 9" tall, with a muscular build and short hair.  The victim was treated at the hospital and released.

Sunday morning, police responded to an incident at 2nd Street and Crosby Avenue. Witnesses heard glass breaking and people yelling about a stabbing.  Police don't have a victim or suspect description in that case, but they don't believe the two stabbings are connected.

If you have any information about the stabbings, call Detective Sgt. Gruber at 715-346-1518.

You can also call Portage County Crimestoppers to remain anonymous at 888-346-6600.

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LINCOLN COUNTY - In the Northwoods, plenty of families sell organic eggs from their small farms. But a new chicken farm near Gleason takes production to a different level. 

Andrew Headings takes care of 25,000 chickens and all of their eggs. With that comes a lot of record keeping.

"Their body weight every day, how much they ate, I can figure that out," said Headings.

Headings started the Headings Family Farm in August. He says he is looking to make the birds even happier this week.

"I'm going to be free range humane certified. I have a big fence out here that fences in about 16 acres. On a nice day, my chickens are going to be allowed to go out and be able to scratch around in this grass and Pasteur," said Headings.

All of his eggs go to Heading's parent farm in Illinois before being sold around the country.

"He's a specialty egg company. We're into organic, non-GMO, omega eggs, double omega, cage free, all of his barns are cage free," said Headings.

There's a good reason you don't see many chicken farms in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

"I didn't look around the country and say 'let's put a barn here because it's ideal', the more ideal would be down south because the cold makes it to where we have to heat so we can't ventilate as much," said Headings.

Even with the cold temperatures, Headings has an eco-friendly plan for heating.

"We have a heater, an 800,000btu heater sitting by the center and we'll have a 10-ton bin sitting there and I'll buy conventional corn, put it in the bin and the stove will burn the corn," said Headings.

That's not the only thing that's eco-friendly on the farm. Headings has tried cutting down on the smell, too.
"The amount of smell we put off in this neighborhood is very minimal. If you get 300 feet away from here, you probably can't smell this thing," said Headings.

You might not smell it, but you sure can appreciate all the hard work.

"Compared to just driving by and saying, 'there's a chicken barn', there's a lot that's involved," said Headings.

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